Title: The Uncommon Reader
Author: Alan Bennett
Release Date: September 18, 2007
Challenge: Dewey’s Books Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, A to Z Challenge
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the dust jacket:
When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.
The Uncommon Reader is a charming and funny novella that will put a smile on any reader’s face. The book is cute, the storyline amusing. Any reader will love this quick look at the power of books.
The queen in The Uncommon Reader is obviously supposed to be Elizabeth II. Though she is never called by name (she does refer to Elizabeth I as her namesake, however), she refers to the death of Princess Diana and has the same affection for Welsh corgis that the current reigning monarch in Britain does. Knowing that, it is fun to read this book and picture the well-known woman losing interest in the pomp and circumstance of being queen because she would simply rather be reading.
It’s a very short book; obviously, it doesn’t necessarily focus on character development. The character of the queen is established well enough and it is satisfying to watch her change over the course of the pages.
The Uncommon Reader is, at its core, a tribute to the power of reading. Any book lover will enjoy reading this novella; or perhaps, it might make a wonderful gift to a non-reader you wish to convert!